Subject Verb Agreement Uses

Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of grammar that determines the coherence and clarity of a sentence. It ensures that the subject and its verb are in concordance, meaning they agree in number and person. This may seem like a trivial matter, but it can significantly impact the readability and understanding of a sentence. In this article, we will explore the uses of subject-verb agreement and how to apply them correctly.

1. Singular subjects require singular verbs, and plural subjects require plural verbs.


The cat chases the mouse. (singular subject and verb)

The cats chase the mice. (plural subject and verb)

2. In a sentence with compound subjects (two or more subjects connected by and), use a plural verb.


Tom and Jerry are good friends. (compound subjects with plural verb)

3. In a sentence with compound subjects connected by or, use a verb that agrees with the subject closest to the verb.


Neither Jerry nor Tom likes to exercise. (verb agrees with Tom, singular)

4. When a subject is separated from the verb by a phrase or clause, you must still ensure subject-verb agreement.


The boy who won the race is congratulated. (singular verb because the subject “boy” is singular)

5. When using indefinite pronouns like everyone, someone, anyone, etc., use a singular verb.


Everyone is encouraged to attend the meeting. (singular verb)

6. Collective nouns like team, group, herd, etc., can be either singular or plural depending on the context.


The herd of cows is grazing in the meadow. (singular because the focus is on the group as a unit)

The herd of cows are separated into smaller groups. (plural because the emphasis is on the individual members)

7. When using titles like Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc., and the subject is singular, use a singular verb.


Dr. Smith writes medical journals. (singular verb)

8. When using collective nouns like family, use a singular verb if the emphasis is on the unit as a whole. Use a plural verb if the emphasis is on the individual members.


The family is going on vacation. (singular verb)

The family are arguing over the destination. (plural verb)

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a vital aspect of grammar that affects sentence structure and coherence. As a copy editor, it is your responsibility to ensure that your writing adheres to the proper usage of subject-verb agreement. By following these guidelines, you can improve the clarity and effectiveness of your communication.